Jodi Arias Trial: Arizona Supreme Court Declines Review of "Cruel" Factor; Arias Execution Still Possible
The Arizona State Supreme Court today declined to review a petition by Jodi Arias to take the death penalty off the table.
image: Court pool camera
The Arizona Supreme Court won't be reviewing the Jodi Arias case based on her previous claim that prosecutors can't use "especially cruel" as an aggravating factor for her sentencing.
The ruling means that Arias, who was convicted on May 8 of premeditated first-degree murder, is still facing potential execution.
On February 22nd, the state's high court declined to halt the trial until a petition to drop the "cruel" factor from being used -- which would have taken the death penalty off the table -- was reviewed.
Today, the state Supreme Court declined to review the petition itself.
Following the May 23rd mistrial of the penalty phase, court is expected to resume in the case on July 18, when a new jury will be empaneled to decide whether to have Arias executed or put in prison for life.
Today's ruling stems from a motion filed by Arias' defense team which argued that the prosecution's theory of how Arias killed 30-year-old Mesa resident Travis Alexander had changed. First, officials said Alexander was shot, then stabbed. That later changed to the current theory: That Arias attacked Alexander in the shower with a large knife, stabbed him at least 27 times, slit his throat from ear to ear, then shot him with the gun she stole from her grandparents' California home.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens rejected the motion. She stated in her January 10, 2013 ruling that not only was the motion not made on a timely basis, but should be rejected even if it had been filed on time because the sequence of Alexander's wounds were "not material to the issue of whether there was probable cause to believe the offense was especially cruel under the theory the crime involved both physical and mental suffering of the victim."
Stephens went on to write:
The court's findings in August 2009 support that court's determination the victim suffered both physically and mentally regardless of when the wounds were inflicted, and that the defendant knew or should have known that the victim would suffer.
In its ruling, the court noted the victim was stabbed 27 times, had defensive wounds from grabbing the knife and was shot on the right side of his head.
The bullet lodged in the victim's left cheek. The defendant told police the victim was unconscious after being shot but crawled around and was stabbed.
Based upon these facts, the court concluded the victim would have felt pain and mental anguish associated with the multiple wounds. The court finds the inaccurate testimony of Detective Flores at the hearing on August 7, 2009 would not have changed the court's finding that the offense was especially cruel and was thus harmless error.
Arias appealed the ruling, but was shot down by the state Court of Appeals on January 30. That defeat led to the unsuccessful attempts to appeal the issue to the state Supreme Court.
In other Arias news:
* Last week, Lifetime network released a trailer for a made-for-TV movie about the Arias murder to air in June. Arias is played by "Lost" star Tonia Raymonde. Jesse Lee Soffer plays Alexander.
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